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tv   Q A  CSPAN  November 28, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EST

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upload or video to c-span before the deadline for your chance to win the grand prize of $5,000. for all the rules on how to upload your video, go to studentcam.org. >> two members of the secret service that guarded president kennedy. >> gerald blaine, author of "the kennedy detail" -- why did you decide to do a book all these many years later on that day? >> we wanted to set the records straight. after the assassination, it made such a powerful impact on us that we didn't even talk about the assassination together with each other and it was only
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the reunion in dallas this last year that we had a chance to sit down and communicate about it from the emotional aspect. we all had our responsibilities or writing reports and so forth but emotionally, we never got it out. >> clint hill, when did you first talk about this? >> well, i had an interview with "60 minutes" in 1975, but it didn't really go into depth at that time. and then i got another interview with "60 minutes" in 1991 or so and then an interview with national geographic but i've never ever gone into depths until i agreed to help jerry write this book. >> where did you start? >> i started when i retired which is a little over five and a half years ago. i went in to the private sector in 1964 and kept very busy
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during that period of time. i went to see the movie "jfk" and it was so absurd that i decided i was not going to read any more conspiracy tales. but i worked in the private sector, retired, and all of a sudden, i thought, you know, there is one issue that still hangs over me. and it was the assassination of president kennedy. and so i started looking on the internet and i was reading stories about agents being part of the conspiracy, agents shooting the president, one of an agent in a follow up car shooting the president albeit accidentally. then, i read something about tampa, florida. well, i had conducted the advance in tampa, florida and i
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read a book. it was so absurd that i pulled out my reports because all of our agents maintained their investigative reports -- their advanced reports, daily reports, expense accounts, and ultimately, the shift accounts. so i had a very good record of what happened in tampa, florida and that was so off-base, this was the book "ultimate sacrifice" and they talked about a four-man hit team, the fact that president kennedy knew about the four-man hit team and they accused the agents of covering it up even though we knew it. we didn't say anything about it and they did this because they thought all of the reports had been destroyed. well after i read that, i decided, "ok, it's time to contact the agents, let's find
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out really what happened all the way through and communicate." we are the last of a dying breed here and there are not many of us left and so we felt we owed it to the public to give a balance to history. >> tampa was on november 18, four days before the 22nd? >> yes. >> and what was the controversy in tampa? >> well, the controversy appears to be whether president kennedy ordered the agents off the car. you have to put this in perspective, what was happening historically at that time. president kennedy was really elected to pass the civil rights bill. the first three years of his administration was tied up in the cold war in the bay of pigs, the cuban missile crisis, access to berlin and it -- he had no time at all until these
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issues were resolved in, i would say, september and october, we covered about nine states. he had confidence and that his programs were being accepted. so i, as an agent, was concerned because we have 11 experienced agents leave in the month prior to the assassination. so that meant with a trip like this, we have to send a number of agents out on in advance. and the day shift which it really was the same shift that worked in dallas, only had two experienced agents and one of the agents, jack ready, had a death in the family, so when we showed up, we had 28 miles of motorcade.
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so i talked to floyd boring and i said "floyd, we're going to wear these guys out. so let's go ahead and put them on the back end of the car and approach it that way." floyd said "i don't know whether the boss is going to buy that or not, but let's go with it." so we started in and the agents were on the back of the car from the very first stop at love field. they got on the car and they -- it wasn't long before we hit a gap where there were no crowds and president kennedy must have noticed the agents standing there. he was -- the next time he got up with a crowd nearby, he stood up, held on to the hand rail, and said, "floyd, tell the ivy league charlatans to get off the car." so i was riding in the lead car and all of a sudden i heard floyd say, "the president wants the ivy league charlatans off the car."
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and i said that couldn't have come from floyd. that had to come from the president. and so emory heard and he looked up, and said "we're going too fast." and floyd said "well, have him duck down." so the agents ducked down and the minute they cleared up, the agents fell back to the follow up car. after that, president kennedy said, look, his political style was to go out and shake hands with the people, to greet them and so forth and floyd evidently had a discussion with him on the way down there and he said, "floyd, if i didn't get out and shake hands with the people, i couldn't get elected dog catcher." and so he said "for this trip and the trip down in texas, i don't want the agents riding on the back of the car."
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>> clint hill, what relevance does this have to your life and to what happened in dallas? >> well, i was informed prior to the dallas trip by floyd boring, that that was what the president wanted. he didn't want people on the back of the car. now, when we got to dallas, we were going down main street and in that situation, there were dense crowds of about 20 people deep on each side of the street. the driver of the car, bill greer, was running the presidential vehicle closer to the left hand side of the street to keep the president, who is on the right rear, away from the crowd in the right. well that put mrs. kennedy right next to the crowd and the motorcycles would have to drop back. so i occasionally, down main street, would go from the follow up car, get up on the back of the car. >> by the way, what was your job during this trip? >> i was responsible for mrs. kennedy's protection and i did that four or five times until we got to the end of main street when we turned right on to houston, the crowds
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dissipated, there were very few people and so i got back in the follow up car. when we turned left on elm, right in front of the school book depository, there were very few people on the left, a few people on the right, there was no reason to be on the back of the car and we knew we were about to hit the stemmons freeway, an expressway and we were going to go at freeway speeds which meant there wouldn't be agents on the back of the car anyway. so there were no agents on the back of the car at the time the incident occurred. it was partly because we are about to hit freeway and partly because he didn't want them there. >> gerald blaine, what was your job? >> my job at that time, after i came back from tampa, i was supposed to go to dallas to help winston lawson complete the advance, but we had an agent who had some connections in dallas so i joined the midnight shift and we worked from midnight to eight and in the
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white house and then we caught a twin engine navy plane and flew to fort worth and stood watch that night. the next day, when the assassination occurred, we just arrived in austin, texas. >> and were you just on the detail? on the presidential detail? or were you running -- i mean, what was your title? >> i was a special agent on the detail, i've been on the detail for five years. like clint, i started with president eisenhower. >> how long did you work for the secret service? >> just a little over five years when i left. >> clint hill, how long did you work for the secret service? >> seventeen and a half years. >> and why did you leave? >> i was -- relieved because of retirement -- disability retirement. >> if i remember correctly, that you were 43 at the time of the -- >> that's correct. i was 43 when i retired. >> what have you done since then? >> mostly, just been retired, i tried a few businesses which didn't succeed very well, so i just pretty much have been retired.
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>> and what did you do when you left the service? >> i went to work for ibm and i took a leave of absence and helped train the shah of iran's bodyguards. they had some concerns at that time. i went back to work for ibm and during that period of time, i realized the potential for law enforcement, we lacked information -- we were pre- technology, we operated by hand signals, there were very few of us, we were like brothers, we wore sunglasses mainly to shield our eyes because in our pockets, we carried a stack of 3x5 cards with photographs and a description of what the threat was. so if we notified somebody or noticed somebody, our job wasn't to go after this somebody, our job was to shield the president.
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so we would get the vehicle out of the area if we could but with ibm, i helped design the national crime information center, people that were working on a system that the agency called "walnut" worked on mobile terminals, fingerprint scanners, all of the things that i felt were missing in the secret service. >> clint hill, when did you decide to participate in this book and why? >> jerry blaine, who i had known since 1959, called me and told me he was going to write a book and i was not enthusiastic at all because i have been offered the opportunity to contribute to books, to write one myself, and i had said no. he assured me that it would be factual, no solicited material, no gossip, and that i could check it for facts and then i agreed that i would participate.
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>> what did you put -- what is your contribution to this book that you have never said before? >> that i had never said before? >> in other words, you said that you have been interviewed before and talked about it, what is new in here from you? >> some of the information about what actually happened that day, what happened at parkland hospital, what happened when we got back to washington with mrs. kennedy, her attitude, her actities, it's all new in the book. >> and from your standpoint, wh is new on this bo? >> it was a matter -- there were a lot of gaps that day and clint helped me, and all of the other gents, we went back to shift reports, i went through the archives at the university of maryland to look at the kennedy file, went through all the investigative files that the aspects that i had not seen
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before and we just wanted to make sure that we had fact on everything that we put in there. we put it in from an agent's perspective. we had a tough job. we worked average about 60 hours a month over time, and if you took our pay and so forth, we ended up i think, about $1.80 an hour and we were all dedicated, most of them were veterans of the korean war. we had our shift leader, my shift leader, art godfrey had won two silver stars in angio that i didn't find out until he died. so a very close mouthed group as far as themselves, but they were all like brothers. we had a fantastic group of men. >> how many of the agents from that day, november 22, 1963 are deceased?
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>> well, let's see. over the -- from that day, i would say there are about 17 that are still alive, of the people that worked on the kennedy detail from 1961 on. >> how many total would have been on the detail? >> well, at any one time, there were 34 agents on the president's detail and six agents on mrs. kennedy and the children's detail. >> now, we got some video from youtube, one of the things you say in your book, that made you want to write this book was all the conspiracy theories and you talked about the movie from oliver stone. this is a man named vince palamara. do you know him? >> i am familiar with him, i don't know him. >> he says that -- and i guess we'll talk about this, that he sent you a 22 page letter? >> i recall receiving a letter which i sent back to him. i didn't bother with it. >> you didn't talk to him ever? >> he called me and i said
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"hello" but that was about it. >> and over the years, have you both been called about this assassination on many occasions. >> i had been called numerous times. >> what has been your attitude, how have you approached the people -- >> for the most part, i just said i have no comment, i just have nothing to say. >> and why is that? >> well, most of it is from people who are writing conspiracy theory books that don't make any sense to me so if they are not going to deal in facts, then i don't want anything to do with it. >> and how about you, what you been -- >> i have never talked to any author of a book and that -- i just felt we had it on our commission books, worthy of trust of confidence and i felt those were issues that you should never talk to anybody on the outside about. and it was -- i had to weigh and evaluate when i wrote this book
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because i felt i wasn't talking about the secret service, i wasn't talking about the kennedy family, but i was talking about the agents that i work with and the incidents that occurred and those were my friends. so that's when i decided to write. >> did you have to get permission to do this from the secret service? >> no. >> so this wasn't cleared by the secret services? >> no. >> no, but we had lunch today with the director of the secret service who thanked us very much for our contribution. >> here is this video, it's not very long and this man's name is vince palamara, he is a citizen who has taken it on its own to become an expert. he is from pennsylvania and i don't know him, i have talked to him and i have just seen it on the web and he is -- i believe he is a graduate of duquesne university so let us watch this and i'll get your reaction. >> ok. >> hi, this is vince palamara. the self described secret service expert that jerry blaine accuses me of -- naming me, ok? back with my obsession about the kennedy detail.
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i got to read this, this is rich. page 287, is what blaine is claiming that rowley said. rowley turned to jerry blaine. "and jerry, since you are in the lead car, did you ever hear this over your radio as well?" "yes, sir, i did. i heard exactly what floyd just told you." the thing about this, this is the whole thing about the ivy league charlatans' thing. jerry blaine told me that the ivy league charlatans thing came from the guys. i can't remember -- i can't remember who said it. boy, his memory got real good five years later because now, he is claiming he heard it over the radio, floyd boring, ok? it's unbelievable, and it's just amazing to me, you know, there never would have been a book if i didn't send a 22 page letter, ok, to clint hill, that pissed him off so much that his very good friend, jerry blaine, came out with his book as counter, ok? these are some things i recommend everyone to buy it online, no censorship, it's my first amendment rights, ok?
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there are some nice pictures and nice known assassination things, and there are even some good assassination related things in here but it's very odd, since other people picked up on that's why there are some really bad reviews on amazon right now, mine is the best, mine is a three stars too. it's very obvious that it's a thinly veiled attempt to rewrite history and to blame president kennedy without trying to blame him for his own assassination. >> first of all, his is not of the best of the reviews, there are seven with five stars just in case for the record that i saw today when i looked on amazon. what's your reaction, could you hear? >> well, he wrote an assessment of the book about the -- first time about five weeks before it was released. the second time on amazon.com, he and four of his friends or four of his aliases put a statement on assessing the book a one, a two, and a three. my assessment of mr. palamara is that he called probably all
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of the agents, and what agent who answers a phone is going to answer a question "was president kennedy easy to protect? well, probably he was too easy to protect because he was assassinated." but the fact that the agents aren't going to tell him anything and he alludes the fact that when i wrote the book, most of these people were dead. well, i worked with these people, i knew them like brothers and i knew exactly what was going on and always respected jim rowley because he stood up to the issue and said "look, we can't say the president invited himself to be killed so let's squash this."
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so that was the words throughout the secret service and he -- mr. palamara is -- there are a number of things that had happened that he has no credibility, he is a self- described expert in his area which i don't know what it is, he was born after the assassination and he keeps creating solutions to the assassination until they are proven wrong. so he is -- >> a lot about - >> but he alleges that because he sent me a letter 22 pages in length apparently, and that i discussed that with jerry. i forgot that i ever got a 22- page letter from this particular individual until i heard him say it on tv and i never discussed it with jerry or anybody else because it wasn't important to me. and so far as him being an
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expert, i don't know where the expert part came from. i spent a long time in the secret service in protection and i'm not an expert, but apparently he became an expert somewhere up in pennsylvania, i don't know where. >> one of the things you read in the book about you is your relationship with mrs. kennedy. why don't you describe it and how close you were to her? >> we were very close but very professional. i always refer to her to her as mrs. kennedy and she always called me mr. hill. but we were closin many ways. at one time, she asked me if i would bring my children over to play with john and caroline and i had to convince her that that was a bad idea that i, an employee of the u.s. government bringing my children to play with the son and daughter of the president and i could just see one of my sons causing a problem, breaking the tooth of one of her children and i'd never get over that. we were very close and -- she was a closet smoker and when we'd be in the car sometimes
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going to middleburg, all a sudden, she would say, "mr. hill, may i have a cigarette?" and so the driver would stop the car and i would get in the back of the car, light a cigarette, give it to her and we would drive on and discuss what was going on at the white house and any problems she had. she was very, very close but very professional. >> how much did you talk to her after this assassination? the years beyond that, did you see much of her then >> was asked to stayor one year afterhe assassination and remained with her and the children until after the election in 1964. she and i nevediscussed the assassination. it was never brought up. but we discussed a lot of other things but -- like she had to move out of the white house, ambassador harriman loaned a house to her in georgetown, she lived there for a while with the children. she bought a house across the street. that became a problem because of tour buses, she had to move,
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she decided she would move to new york. i was with her all of that period so that we had a very close relationship. >> when you go back to that day, november 22, where were you when the president was shot? >> i was in austin. i had probably been in bed about five minutes when there was a bang on the door and it was the shift leader. art godfrey is telling me that the president had been hit. so we packed up our bags, went up to the air force base outside of austin and rode a strategic air command tanker back with john bailey who is the head of the democratic national committee and we had five agents on our shift and three or four other agents who had conducted the advance in austin. wayidn't say a word on the
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home either and we didn't find out until we arrived at andrews that the president was dead. >> how did you go about doing the book? it has also -- has been a documentary on discovery for two hours. how did you go about getting it sold and getting all the information? i know that there is a -- you have a woman that did -- i assume, a lot of the writing, lisa mccubbin? >> yes, she is an excellent writer and i had sent out some questionnaires to the agents and then i typed out a few questions to the agents and i found out, you know, this is a cold way to do it so if i had a question, i would call on them on the telephone. i called clint, we started talking and pretty soon, we have talked 45 minutes about, you know, other things and so forth. and we all of a sudden found out we all felt the same and this had been a shadow hanging
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over -- there are not many jobs where you can be 100% failure and we considered we were 100% failure on that and with that, the agents just started opening up and that resulted in a reunion, the agents down in dallas where we discussed on the discovery channel how it impacted us and how we felt and it was a good healing session. >> one of the things that critics say about the book is it's an attempt by you all to blame president kennedy for what happened down there because of the idea that you couldn't ride on the side of the actual limousine that was shot. what is your reaction to that? >> nothing could be farther from the truth than that. certainly, we don't blame president kennedy.
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i went back to dallas in 1990 for the first time, i walked dealey plaza, i went up in the sixth floor, looked out the window, went back again this past june, did the same thing for about a week. there is only one conclusion that i could make and that was what happened there was due to many, many things. the weather was part of the problem, the street configuration was part of the problem, the location of the building was part of the problem, and the shooter who had secreted himself in the sixth floor had an ideal situation develop. so i came to the conclusion there was nothing that i did, personally, that i could have done any differently and so -- from that point on, i quit blaming myself for the president's death. now he certainly didn't contribute to that death in any way, it wasn't his fault in any way, we failed in our responsibility to protect him. that was our job. >> how did you fail though? i mean is there any way you could have prevented that from happening? >> by -- perhaps by -- you
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know, the one thing about it is if you took a shot of a photograph of main street that day in dallas, if you looked at all the buildings on main street, you will find that almost every building had windows open, people on balconies, people on rooftops, and so when you look at the school book depository, and you saw some windows open, it was nothing unusual about that. now, what could we have done? the only thing that possibly could have been done was make sure every window in every building had been closed but it was impossible to do that under the conditions that existed. >> not enough resources -- when you look at the feat that clint performed, he saw the president after the first shot, grabbed for his throat and he jumped right away, he had to catch up with 80 feet, there was -- the car has traveled 80 feet from the time he left to the time he reached the car. the car was going 11 miles an
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hour which means clint had to be running about 15 miles an hour and darn near missed the back of the car and he could have been laid out flat but the president was shot in the head before clint there and clint gave it a super human effort, so -- >> we have another one of these videos from youtube and this is from somebody -- there is no name on it. the truth will out, and i'll run it again so that you all can view with what the accusations are. let us run this and it's about a minute and 29 seconds, you can watch it on these monitors here and comment on it. >> watch the left side of your screen, the arrow points to agent in charge emery roberts as he stands in the secret service follow up car and motions with his hand. what he is doing is calling away the president's two most important bodyguards, the bodyguards whose job was to protect the president's back by riding on the bumper of the limousine throughout the motorcade.
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watch again as he stands and orders the agents running at the rear of the president's car away. watch the confusion inside the follow up car that results. now watch the right side of your screen, the arrow points to one of two agents whose job was to hop aboard the bumper and act as human shields. he is obviously perplexed. watch as he shrugs his shoulders three times in dismay, each shrug more dramatic than the last. as you watch this scene for the final time and ask yourself, is this the kind of conduct you would expect from an agency that routinely sends an advanced
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team to a city a month or more prior to the president's arrival in order to make preparations? >> mr. hill. >> yes. i would be glad to comment on that. i was the agent on the left rear outside -- running alongside the car. the agent on the right rear -- working at the right rear at that time is an agent named don lawton. don lawton's assignment that day was not to ride in the follow up car. his assignment to him was to remain at love field and handle our return, secure the airport for us when we came back. we were going to fly on to austin, texas and what he was doing was -- when he came back off the car, he was saying, "ok, you guys, i'm going to lunch, have a good trip." i talked to him within the last month and he reiterated to me the same thing again. that's exactly what he was doing, just making a gesture to us in the follow up car, "see
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you, i'm going to lunch. have a good trip." >> where do you two stand on the warren commission? >> i read the warren commission and all 23 books with it. i feel the warren commission came up with the solution. it's been 47 years now and any good investigator will tell you if a conspiracy is committed, it's lucky to last 60 days. this has been going on for 47 years and there is not one shred of evidence that it was a conspiracy. if you go through the book, and you follow oswald's actions, taking a shot at general walker, he was -- he had the type of personality, he couldn't talk to anybody five minutes without totally alienating them. he had failed at everything he
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did. he couldn't even be a good defector and i believe that he just felt that "by golly, somebody is going to realize the lee harvey oswald lives." >> you know, in the book, there is a lot about what happened to you, that you went through depression and you started drinking and all that, would you tell that story and when was that and you know, here you are, you are both 78 -- >> 78, yes, sir. >> what happened? >> well, as i progressed in the service, i got desk jobs and i was not as active as i had been and i began to think about the assaination, what happened, what could i have done and it just started to eat at me. by 1975, when i was retired, it really had gotten to me. and i was interviewed by "60 minutes"' mike wallace, and after that interview, it just seemed to deteriorate and i hid myself in my basement with a bottle and a carton of
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cigarettes for years. it wasn't until 1982 that a friend of mine, who is a doctor, it's either quit what you are doing or die. and so i quit drinking, i quit smoking and thank god, i just got progressively better ever since that time. >> what impact did it have on your married life and your family? >> well, my kids had suffered a great deal because of the fact that i was gone almost 80% of the time during the time i was in the secret service so they grew up almost without a father but today, we are very close today. but my wife was very supportive throughout that time and kept on just hanging in there with me. >> but you know, after that assassination, you went on to be head of the detail for lbj, president johnson. >> at first i was transferred from mrs. kennedy back to johnson in november of 1964. at first, president johnson did not accept me, he saw me and he recognized me as coming from the kennedy detail and he asked that i not be there, that i be
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removed. rufus youngblood who he trusted, went in and talked to him and told him that i was there for -- as a professional. that i had nothing to do with politics and he agreed to accept me. a few years later, i had advanced and i became the special agent in charge of presidential protection under president johnson and we became pretty good friends. >> what was the difference between lyndon johnson and john kennedy? >> night and day. they both are gregarious of course but their personalities were very, very different. president lyndon johnsonas very, very unpredictable. we never knew for sure what he is going to do next, and he prerred to have it that way, if he could do something as a colete surprise, thawas his preference. whereas with president kennedy, we knew -- he uld keep us inrmed, we know exacy what was going to happen.
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president kennedy knew every agent by name. president johnson knew many of us but not as many as president kennedy probably. but both had their own individual personalities and all presidents do. you just have to accept them for what they do and how they act. >> ok, one of the criticism to the book come from these folks that don't believe any of this or conspiracy theorists is that you are covering up the fact in here that jack kennedy had extra marital affairs and you mentioned here the situation with marilyn monroe and basically put it aside saying it didn't amount to anything. what is your answer to the criticism? >> there is criticism -- what i tried to state is that we protect the president when he is outn public, when he goes up to his residence and so forth, there may be visitors, what happens up there, none of the agent know. all i know is that there were
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two times that iaw marilyn monroe and we left before marilyn did and the first time was out in santa monica, californiat the home of peter lawford and his wife pat, the president's sister was there. the president went in, changed into his swim trunks, went out in the ocean for a bit, shook hands with the people, came back in, got his clothes and left. the second time was when she sang "happy birthday" to the president in madison square garden and afterwards, they had a reception at arthur krim's residence and there were a number of stars and a number of ople from the administration that were there. the president left and went back to the carlyle. >> so on things like extramarital theories, what is your attitude about when you see something like that, what is
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the rule of the secret service? >> i don't know, i always use this statement, "president kennedy never asked me about my sexual life and i never asked him about his." >> i have no knowledge of any marital affair with -- between the president and anybody else and i worked with five presidents. so -- >> who are the five? >> eisenhower, kennedy, johnson, nixon and ford. >> and how many presidents did you -- >> eisenhower, kennedy and johnson. three. >> you have some figures in the book that in 1963, the budget for the secret service was $4.1 million. >> no. >> with 300 agents, and today, the budget is $1.6 billion and 4,000 agents. what has changed? >> only the numbers. that is all that has changed. there are that many agents today. when i came in the service, there are 269. the only way you got a job was either somebody died or retired, and then they hired somebody.
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in 1963, there were less than 300 i believe. but the only thing that is different are the numbers. the job is the same. the attitude is the same. the agents are better trained probably because they go through a different training system. everything is improved, they have technology today that we only dreamed of having back in 1963 but other than that, the secret service is the same today as it was in 1963. >> on the other side of that too, the weaponry today is so sophisticated when you can shoot headshots at over a mile away with a sniper rifle with nuclear capability, biological, chemical, all of the threats we have but much more sophisticated. other countries are working on drones, much like the ones that we useow over in afghanistan, only miniaturized so any agent who has ever been on protection
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has to realize that there is no 100% guarantee. there is always the gap, you give your all and you may prevent it, or you may have an assassination and that has not changed. >> so over the years, what have you both read or watched? you mentioned that you saw the oliver stone film, what did you -- did you read the books on the assassination? >> i tried to stay away from most of it. i've read the warren commission report and read bill manchester's book, i read the bugliosi book, but most of the other stuff is just junk so i don't read it. >> and are those books that you mentioned the manchester book and the bugliosi book, are they accurate in your opinion? >> somewhat. mostly accurate. >> what has been your experience? >> i felt bugliosi went about disproving a lot of the theories that were out there. i guess what concerns me in some ways, we had an agent who is manning the ar15 and another one of these experts who was
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supposedly on trajectory and firearms and so forth stated that this agent stood up and when the car moved out, he fell backwards and accidentally shot the president. so a gentleman by the name of gary mack who is a curator of the sixth floor museum happened to dig out a film and found out that the agent, an agent by the name of hickey, had not even stood up, was just in the process of starting to lift up when the third shot was fired. so therefore, if he had fired the shot at that time, it would have gone right between kenny o'donnell and dave powers and would have had to gone through the front windshield of the
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follow up car. that book is still for sale on the market. >> what happens when you are out in public, can you go through meeting people without them knowing who you are, what your background is, the fact that you were there on that day and you were the fellow that was up on the back of the automobile when mrs. kennedy tried to climb out? >> for the most part, i can, but depending upon where i am. and if the word had gotten out that i am there, then word spreads pretty fast and people confront you and for the most part, they are very, very kind and generous in their comments. >> what has been your attitude about talking about it? >> well i am glad, you know, i'm willing to talk to people about it. this -- i have no reservations about that. i just don't like to contribute to any book material or anything like that except for the book i helped jerry with. >> here is a photograph on the screen right now of you on the back of that lincoln continental and that -- what are you doing right there? >> i can't see myself. >> i believe that -- you can we
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have -- we can have the zapruder film, we also have you know, when mrs. kennedy climbed on the back -- >> ok. >> the trunk, what were you doing? >> well, after this, when the third shot hit, this is right about now, i was just about to get onto the car and i slipped and then i regained my step and then i got up in the car and mrs. kennedy at that time was coming out on the trunk. she was coming out on the trunk to try to retrieve something that came off the president's head went out to the right rear. she did not know i was there. when i got up on the trunk, i pushed her as best i could back into the rear seat. when i did that, the president fell down into her lap, with the right side of his head up exposed. i see that his eyes were fixed and there was a large hole above the right ear, just to the rear above the right ear about the size of my palm. the skull -- that part of the skull was missing and there was brain matter -- it looked like somebody had taken an ice cream scoop and gone in there and
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just removed a whole portion of the brain and thrown it around the back of the car. the back of the car and she were covered in blood and brain. and we -- i turned and gave a thumbs down to the follow up car to let them know that for all intents and purposes, what had happened, and the driver accelerated, we went past the lead car, we screamed at them to get us to a hospital, we didn't know where the hospital was. they got in front of us and took us to parkland and we got to parkland and we had a problem of getting people out of the car. i didn't realize at first that connally had been shot. he lifted up at one point while we were still moving, i noticed the front of his shirt was all covered in blood so i knew he had been shot. when we got to parkland, they had been notified but there were no gurneys there, one of the agents ran in and a guy was in the process of coming out, he got two gurneys out there and then we had the problem of moving governor connally out of the car first because he was sitting in the jump seat immediately in front of the president. we couldn't move the president
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or first lady without getting the people out of the jump seats. so we got governor conley onto a gurney, mrs. connally followed, threw the jump seats forward, and then we had the problem of getting the president out. well, mrs. kennedy didn't want to let go of the body. and i recognized that she was probably trying to shield him from the people seeing what his appearance was which was pretty gross so i took my jacket off and threw it over his head and the top of his torso. when i did that, she released him and we picked him up, put him on a gurney and raced into the hospital. the agents followed. >> how old were you on that day? >> 31. >> how old was she? >> 34. >> you were about to say something earlier. >> the zapruder film, when the zapruder film was run at normal speed, another theme that palamara throws out is that bill greer stopped the car, when it's run at its normal speed,
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you will notice the car absolutely does not stop at all. this happened in less than six seconds after the president was hit in the throat and moving along. then all of a sudden, everybody broke down the zapruder film to frame by frame, just slowed it down and they created a myth to almost every frame of what was going on and you will notice too that when mrs. kennedy comes over after the first shot, she is directly in front of the president's face and people have accused bill greer of pulling a gun out and shooting the president. he'd have to shoot through the connallys and they had to shoot mrs. kennedy and the same thing holds for anybody on the grassy knoll. they fired -- they probably injured mrs. kennedy in it, too.
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these are the myths that had come about, people create a myth or a theory that they forget all the other facts that are going on. >> after the president was shot and you got to the hospital, what was -- what did you do with mrs. kennedy? what was your responsibility then? >> the governor was in one emergency room and the president was right across the hall. and at first, mrs. kennedy went into the emergency room with him but there got to be some many doctors in there that there was hardly room for anybody and she came out and was in a place between the two emergency room. agent landis who is working with me with mrs. kennedy helped get her a chair, my supervisor, roy kellerman asked me to contact the white house so i grabbed the phone, got the telephone number from win lawson and called the dallas white house. wherever we traveled, the white
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house communications had set up a switchboard. so i got the dallas white house and asked them to put me through to jerry behn's office in the white house in washington and they keep the line open, which they did. and i began to tell jerry behn what had happened when kellerman came back out, grabbed the phone and explained to blaine what had happened and about that time, one of the doctors came out and said he is breathing. and mrs. kennedy rushed back in and then kellerman gave me the phone and he rushed backed in and about that time, i was then trying to explain to jerry behn what had happened and the operator cut in and said, attorney general kennedy is on the phone, he wants to talk to agent hill. so i said "this is agent hill." and he said, "clint, what happened?" so i told him that both the governor and the president had been shot. and then he said "well, how bad is it?" i didn't want to tell him that his brother was dead so i just simply said "it is as bad as it
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can get" and he hung up. about that time, kellerman came back, what happened with the president's breathing was involuntary resuscitation, what was going on, his brain was dead but his body kept moving, i guess, with air or something and then we continued to talk to the white house to explain what had happened, make sure that they were completely informed, i told them -- told mr. behn to please call -- contact members of the family to make sure that we told him before the press did which he said he would do. then after -- when they determined that the president had died, they decided to tell the press and they had the problems with vice president johnson had been taken to a separate part of the hospital and secured by the agents who had been working the follow up
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car and the agents that had been assigned to him. but when it happened, we got to parkland, just so you know, one of the senior agents who was assigned to the follow up car realized the situation was so dire that he took the agents and went to help secure the vice president. he knew that there was nothing he could do for the president which was the correct thing to do. he did -- he made the right decision and it was instantaneous. we were waiting for the decision to be made what would happen, the vice president wanted to go to the airport, we wanted him to go immediately to washington. we thought it would be best if he got out of the area. he didn't want to leave dallas without mrs. kennedy. mrs. kennedy wouldn't leave without the body. and so when vice president johnson got to the aircraft, he just waited to find out what was going to happen. now we had the problem at the hospital of removing the body because texas state law require there be an autopsy on any
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individual killed in that jurisdiction and the autopsy had to be conducted in that jurisdiction so we were not going to be allowed to remove the body from dallas. so we tried to convince them that this was the president of the united states, he represented all the people, and we should take him back to the nation's capital but this was state law, and they were right, it was state law. so we tried to call a federal judge and a state judge, one of them came to the hospital. and after a lot of give and take, a lot of arguing back and forth between kenny o'donnell and dave powers and officials in texas and roy kellerman, my boss, it was decided that if we took the body out of the hospitals and flew it back to washington, it had to be accompanied by somebody who is a medical professional at all the time at all times. and i said, well, we have the right person for that job and it was admiral george burkley
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who was the president's physician so from that point on, he remained with the body. the body never left his sight. and it never left my sight until we got to the autopsy room in bethesda. >> gerald blaine, when you look back on this project, to this book, what was the hardest part of putting this all together and how long did it take you? >> after all of my research, it did not take long to write the book, once we got the outline there, but the most difficult thing -- i was concerned about the agents i talked to, there are two agents yet that just cannot confront that day and i knew that it was painful whenever i brought the subject up and because i knew how i felt, and that was the toughest thing. but the more we talk, the more
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people opened up and talked to other agents and then, that recalling situation, it's been a healing process for me -- >> and a healing process for me too. very much so. >> explain why? >> just because we were like brothers and it's like sitting around together and talking about it and trying to resolve the issues because we never said how did you feel or what impact did you have? we didn't have any counseling or trauma counseling. right after the assassination, we had to go to work and we ended up working more hours than we have worked before. we were never going to let that mistake happen again and so we were all left to try to solve this. i think a lot of us thought
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maybe we have resolved it at one time in our life but at the end, we haven't really resolved it. >> in your case, you know, how did this heal? >> well, it allowed me to express the feelings i had to jerry and to the writer, lisa mccubbin, she interviewed me for a couple of hours in washington and then via e-mail and it just -- to get the information out to -- just to release -- which was like a load off my back it this -- just felt so much better. >> now there is a rather large book tour unrway. are you both going to all the locations? >> yes. >> yes. >> and why are you doing it? >> because again, we want to get the story out. right now, history is made out by a cottage industry called conspiracy and the usa today, about three weeks ago, came out
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with an article stating that the youth between the ages of 18 and 29, 82 percent believed in a conspiracy. >> on this particular case? or just a -- >> on jfk's assassination and if that goes down in history of all of these theories go down as the only solution, the only aspect of history we decided, we better make our history understand from our perspective what happened and hope that the youth buys that because if not, they will never trust history again. >> why are you doing it, mr. hill? >> to help -- the same reason. to get the word out that this book is fact and not fiction and that most of the other information that is being peddled out there is strictly theory and they have no firsthand knowledge of anything that happened and they decided to make a lot of money by
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trying to write a book. >> when the two of you think of that day, what is the first thing that comes to mind right away? >> the first thing that comes to my mind is what i saw in the back seat of the car. >> mr. blaine? >> i had sympathy for whoever was there because i knew they had given their all and just felt sorry for the agents that -- we operated as a team, and the fact that he was dead, we failed and i think that is the way everybody felt. >> well, then let me ask this. if you had to do it all over again, what would you have done differently? >> well, if you took everything into consideration, i wouldn't do much differently but you know, riding in open car and even with a bubble top that we had, that wasn't armored, that was strictly plexiglas so that wouldn't have helped much either. what i would do differently, i don't know, i probably couldn't do anything differently.
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>> in the book, i called it a confidence factor. with president eisenhower, he did not have a narcissistic bone in his body, he rode in a closed top car, he didn't really have an urge to go out and shake hands with people and of course, this was his last term in office. so we had probably a 95% confidence factor. with president kennedy, there is the issue about the bubble top car whether it was on or off, if you go through and look at all the pictures in his administration, the bubble top off was standard. only if mrs. kennedy were riding or was raining would the bubble top go on and with president kennedy, i got to say we had a confidence factor of about 70%. >> we only have about a minute. what is different today than
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those days back when you were an agent? what is the main difference? >> the main difference, probably the number of people involved is very beneficial to the service. they have good cooperation from all law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies in the government and from international organizations. when they go abroad, which they are now, right now in india, they are getting cooperation from the indian government from whatever government they are visiting. we did cooperation but -- did get cooperation but it is not to the extent they get it today. they have much more sophisticated equipment, they use armored cars, we never had an armored car, they had instant communications between agents, we didn't have that. so from that point of view, it is better today than it was then and i think they have more threats today and the type of threat is probably much more dangerous than the threats we faced. >> we are out of time. and the name of this book is called "the kennedy detail."
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gerald blaine, you lead this with lisa mccubbin, a writer, and clint hill participates in the book and we thank you both very much for --. >> thank you. >> thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> for a dvd copy of this program, call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about ts program, visit us at q-and-a.org. "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. congress >> reasons its lame- duck session on monday.
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